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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

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Our Founders Remembered

In 2013 two of our founders, John Cobb and Colin Pain died. They were very important individuals to the Friends and much is owed to them. Here are some recollections of the early days of the Friends.

By Kathy White

In 1989 John was among local residents who were outraged to learn of the plans of the Department of the Environment to fell and replant Chestnut Avenue in Bushy Park. He identified others who were equally furious. Objections to the Department were made forcefully by a protest group organised by the Teddington Society and subsequently, the DoE modified its plans. However, it was felt by the local community that Bushy, together with Home Park, should have watchful eyes kept on them in future and The Friends of Bushy and Home Parks was formed. John became its first Chairman and the group was welcomed by those who valued the parks both locally and further afield.

John saw clearly that the new group would flourish most effectively if it focused on communication and constructive discussion. It was with great skill and application that John brought The Friends group from its beginning as a means of protest about possible depredations of the well-loved Chestnut Avenue to a group dedicated to the well-being of both Parks. “His early initiatives included a mass planting of fritillaries in the Woodland Garden, followed by the creation of a butterfly garden.” His ebullient and generous nature persuaded the management of the Parks to recognise this new group could be a positive force for the good of all who loved and worked in the Parks.

John later retired to Sussex where he continued his interest and affection for The Friends and all it has achieved. He is greatly missed.

By Iain Innis Burgess

The “Friends” was conceived in a conversation between Colin Pain and John Cobb as they walked the Avenue on Chestnut Sunday 1989. Michael Baxter-Brown, the park superintendent was seen, like Gladstone at Penarlag, or King Henry at the Tower, as a bit too free and easy with the axe.

Half a year later, the last Sunday in October, Jean Brown (chairwoman: Hampton Wick Association and a former Labour councillor (rara avis in this borough)) asked me to represent the Association at a meeting on the second of November: to found a “Friends of Bushy Park“.

The Gang of Eight gathered in the loft of Dean House, Park Lane, Teddington on the evening of All Souls Day; our hosts were John and Marie Cobb.

Being the only representative from the Hampton Wick / Hampton Court side, I suggested “the Friends of Bushy and Home Parks”, an idea that was put forward by Colin Pain at the public meeting called later that month.

Philippa Morgan, our secretary, came to me with half a dozen notices of the meeting for Wick shops. The calligraphy was so impressive that I went to a printer and had several thousand run off, which I delivered in the roads around the parks. Ninety eight people were at the inaugural public meeting. The press said one hundred. What would become of scientific research if precise figures were routinely rounded up?

An at early committee meeting that Winter, several members turned up late, having been invited to a presentation at The King’s Arms concerning a flower show. This was our first intimation that Home Park, as much as Bushy, needed its friends. Originally I had thought that we only needed a liaison group seconded from the local amenity societies but soon realised that the parks have needs different from the environing towns.

Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Thursday, 23rd Nov 8:00 pm

The Royal Parks in the Great War. Talk by David Ivison

Latest report

A perimeter walk of Home Park led by Nicholas Garbutt was enjoyed by over 45 people on 2nd September.Walk in Home Park- 2nd September

Full report...